Feedback from viewers (TV version)
A 'real' adventure.....done by 'real' adventurers...with all the twists and turns.” Jude L.
I like it:
A documentary full of Love, emotion., dedication and enthusiasm.
Good to see that there are some innovative Aussie film makers out there.
Triumph over adversity, but also, an amazing work of art:
This story is close to my heart, understanding camels, the traumas encountered on your journey and the amazing way you capture raw emotion through your lens. Kamahl, you have truly excelled in your work. A most fantastic adventure.
Thank you for taking me on such an amazing journey - I laughed, cried and grieved with the 5 of you. Hope this is not the last we will hear from you.
Followed all the twists and turns with baited breath....even shed a tear over the deaths!!! Great narration and footage.
Five amazing people, Four incredible camels, and one journey moulding the two:
This documentary is that 'one' that comes through every so often amongst creative people, that brings depth of humans & their connections with life & cultures from other parts of the world. The Camel Odyssey has been laid out with plenty of the exciting & real moments you look for in a interesting piece of media. Unlike many others it leaves you in the end with a completed story...perhaps... but much different to the one that was expected. Incredible work, can't wait to see more in the future.
Extremely colourful, visually and emotionally. You achieved your goal successfully. Me, the voyeur, was right in there.
I love Camels now!:
One hour would never have been enough for this epic story. I howled for the deaths of the camels and have now fallen in love with them. The Bactrians are so beautiful. Indeed, "life is not about the Journey, or getting from one place to another, but what happens on the way" This story was a perfect example of that and how life and in this case death, happens while you are busy making other plans. If there is a book to be made about this journey with Antoine's amazing photographs, I want one!
Never buy a camel with out a guide:
Most enjoyable, adventure, with my son, we hired 4 camels with their two Guides to cross part of the Sahara in far Nothern Tunisia. I could relate the bonded with the love that developed between crew and Camels. We had developed the same life long respect and bonding experience.
I just loved it. i did some camel ridding in Bikaner. this just took me back. Fantastic!!!
Kamahl you have managed to catch the very soul of these camels...:
Simply fantastic, an emotional ride, leaving you wanting to see more about these loveable misunderstood creatures. Camels thanks to your truthfull, insightful and amazing skills have now won the hearts thousands of Aussies. A week camel training with Phill G was simply not enough, when can I get my own camels....
The magnificent experience of camel odyssey...:
Kamahl i had no idea what to expect and only turned on the tv for a quick peek, only to find i hadn’t moved until five minutes after Camel Odyssey had ended... truly amazing to watch and very touching.
I really enjoyed watching this doco, it had a wide range of emotions, facts and beautiful scenery. Thank-you for sharing this journey allowing us to come along for the ride. Kamahl you are a great story teller and documentary creator, you have a true gift for weaving a story and making the audience feel like they are apart of the journey as well. Congratulations, looking forward to seeing more.
What a TRIP!:
Fantastic documentary and great narration. Kamahl Film certainly has a gift in story telling. Full of raw emotional footage both funny, sad and celebratory. Camels are amazing creatures and this documentary supports this. A fresh, heartfelt story and I cant wait for the next adventure with Kamahl. What an Aussie Legend!!
Kamahl This doco was incredible! You have such a gift! What an amazing portrayal of such an emotional journey. Thanks for sharing!
Wonderful storytelling in harsh conditions:
I was moved by the sincerity of this documentary. Nothing seemed to go your way and yet you always kept your intentions pure. It is so sad that you lost part of your camel family and we demonised so immediately, but this is what makes a good story, something we as an audience can learn from. I look forward to seeing some more adventures from this crew.
As a huge documentary fan, I would rate A Camel Odyssey right up there with the best. (Charlie Boorman /Ewan Mc Gregor doc. also Charlie Boormans ( By Any Means) have also watched ALL of David Dimbleby's docs ) along with many many more. A Camel Odyssey kept us entertained from start to finish.
A journey of the soul:
Kamahl, well done. A beautiful documentary about a journey of the heart and discovery of the greatest kind; self. Such a devotion to an unusual animal that was to serve as your transportation but became a companion and more to it's human carer. A Camel Odyssey was not just about the camels, it was about the journey of five individuals on a physical level as well as a mental and spiritual level. I hope we see more of your work and congratulations SBS on supporting young Australian film makers.
Camel Odyssey - F-yeah!:
What an amazing journey. Fabulous coverage and amusing narration. Great set-up and the second half really drew us in. The symmetry between Antoine's foot and the camel was ingenious - it generated a lot of pathos. Did you set that up? It was like you all became camels! Looking forward to the feature... and no doubt the book! (suggested title - camel odyssey: f yeah) ps. Loved the visual gag about the kiwi and the sheep shagging.
A breath of fresh air:
What a relief to watch something REAL: real pain,death etc filmed by a young Aussie, obviously on the run at times, with no back up: no TV crew, no vets, no medics, just raw, exposed on the back of a camel for all to see, touch, attack etc. When an animal gets a nail in its foot here the vet hits it up with tetanus shot in a sec. That first vet failed them on every count. The boys weren't vets but their love for their camels shone through. Kamahl is obviously a great film maker too.
What an Odyssey!!!:
Wow, a story with everything: humour, sincerity, drama, deep understanding of the connection between animals and humans, and fantastic visual footage. I was riveted to the screen and like many people cried when the camels died and the guys were accused of cruelty. Incredible emotional range for a doco, though I do feel there was more of this story than an hour's worth. i hope to see more of the camels and more work from this wonderfully evocative filmmaker.
My television viewing won't be the same:
This was unbelievable viewing, from the moment it started I was glued to my seat and anyone that spoke was immediately silenced. I was over awed with the fact that 5 young men spent their time in filming in such rugged terrain. I can only imagine the heartache when two of the camels passed. It definitely brought a tear to my eyes,, many in fact. I loved this doco from start to finish and can't wait for the next installment. Hurry bring it to us....I will be waiting when it arrives..
Wish I was there:
This doco hit the nail on the head. It was raw, heart felt, funny, scary everything that should be in a well presented documentary. Well done Kamahl and your 5 Adventures and not to forget the Indian Tour Guides. I really enjoyed it. I could see it was such a risk to start and finish this journey, so many set backs and so my obstacles that the journey came across. It reminding me of my backpacking days in Europe and made me want to pack up my bags again and take on my own journey.
I really enjoyed the Camel Odyssey. The film had it all, humour, tension, unexpected events. I liked the young guys commitment to the adventure and their increasing affection for the animals and their genuine sadness when they died. I believe the filmmaker is a young man at the start of his career. I would think he has a great future ahead of him and wish him all the best for the future. I will look forward to any new films he makes with interest.
Totally remarkable! These guys experienced and endured the most amazing adventure. It was one of those documentaries that captured your attention from the very start.
Was one of the best documentaries I have seen in a long time..........Stunning documentary, the shots were beautiful........... Very raw and real and I felt like I was right there with the guys, was amazing to feel their emotion towards the camels and also their heartbreak along the journey........ Definitely look forward to the next production from Kamahl Films.......
Almost switched off after the first few minutes, really glad I didn't as this story moved from the somewhat bumbling beginning of these hapless characters to one which covered many human emotions and social realities in a down to earth manner. No back up crew when they landed in trouble, just their wits and a blessing from the Buddist Monks. Changed my perception of camels forever and showed a great documentary doesn't necessarily depend on a big budget.
Absolutely loved it:
Absolutely loved it. I loved all the camels too, how very courageous all they guys where, so inspiring, what an adventure.
Felt like you were there:
Kamahl has such a good story telling voice. Even when things got very heavy there was a cheeky sense of humour like the laugh you give when smashed by a wave you sort of knew you weren't slick enough to go for. So with this raw simplicity much wisdom and fascinating insight flowed. This was a doco that sort of swept you along, we didn't want the adventure to end. Hadn't really thought much about camels before but Kamal had us entranced and so sad at times. Can't wait for the next one.
Barry and Paula
Moving, involving & interesting. I enjoyed the time spent with you all . Thank you & good luck for the future!
I thoroughly enjoyed watching this documentary and was actually brought to tears when both the camels died. This group of young men were showing the Bactrian camel to people that had never seen them before. The Indian people were a delight in the way they welcomed the guys to their villages. Yes, I agree it was distressing to watch the camels die but at no time did I blame the guys, I felt they did all they could with the limited veterinary care that was available to them.
I can only consider this documentary to be beautifully done. It had all the elements there to leave me utterly entranced. I was thoroughly transfixed by these young men's experience and felt that I was there with them due to the raw and gritty filming. I was moved by the care and love that these young men grew to have for their camels and actually cried when they died. This is a quality documentary in that it produces strong emotions for or against it. Well done.
The Camel Oddyssey:
Absolutely loved it! I laughed, I cried and held my breath waiting for the next installment. Thanks Kamahl it was a ride worth waiting for.
Loved it! Camel Odyssey was a refreshingly naive and unchartered adventure. I wanted more, more, more! By 10 minutes in I wanted more than an hour scheduled to live through this amazing adventure. Thought the editing job was great - good mix of the colour of the villages/ people and the emotional rollercoaster of the young men as they fell in love with their camel companions. TV needs more of this kind of real travel / life adventure... Where's the series? I want more.
A real adventure:
" A Camel Odyssey" is a story of a "real "adventure where things never go quite to plan. The Images of those ancient, mystical animals stay in the mind . An unusual and haunting documentary, Well done Kamahl. More please.
A random blog:
Camel Odyssey was a documentary shown on SBS last night. For someone who hardly watches Television, I really had turned it on at the perfect time.
It was a nearly one hour film, documented five international travelers (3 French, 1 British and 1 Australian) who set out on an epic journey, to be the first people to take Bactrian camels from the towering heights of the Indian Himalayas down to Rajasthan and the famous Pushkar camel fair.
What a brilliant idea... 5 young guys coming from different back ground, speaks different languages but share the same romantic spirit and loves adventure. They got in touch with each other and decided to get on this 3 months trip with Camels, which could possible be the first that has ever done in history...
3 months, through the mountains, crossing the dessert, sleeping under the stars, and walking in the rain. They argued, and they learnt team work and co-operation; someone wanted to quit, and some tougher ones persuaded him and made him stay. On their trip, wherever they stop, the local people treat them as the most prestige guests, feast with their best food, and fest with the entire village. They made parties surround the camp fire, and they danced with the villagers just as if they were brothers.
Before they even started to think of their victory, yet, like all the adventures, it's not always a romantic peaceful story. When two of the camels die, the travelers are blamed for the deaths their camels, in the local media and the BBC. Threatened with charges of animal cruelty, police prosecution and mob justice, the group is forced into hiding.
Two months later, after they have finally brought the other two camels in the Pushkar camel fair, people were stunned. No one could believe it. It’s the first time these villagers in Rajasthan have seem a 2 humps camel ever in their lives! What a victory! What a triumph!! Though, for these 5 young men, it’s never their final destination. What they have gone through is million times more valuable than the cheers received by the crowd. Like what it’s said, the meaning of an adventure is not about traveling from A to B, but of what you have seen, learnt and experience on the journey.
The film was finished rather shortly. Yet, I crawl in the couch, completely mesmerized. Rather touched by their free thinking and adventurous mind-set, I couldn't stop questioning myself, since when, I have lost the same spirit in me, and starting from when, I have persuaded myself that my cubicle in the Cisco building was the safest place to be? Is work and family really that important in our lives so we have stopped dreaming, and stopped chasing after what is really hidden inside of oneself? A hot stream of itchiness passed through my body. I WANT TO MOVE!!! I want to experience, I want to explore, I want to visit a lot of places, and see a lot of things before it's too late.
Fred, if you see this post, promise me: no matter what happens next year, let’s climb the mountains in Tibet, and cross Russian on the Trans-Siberian; let’s visit the villages in Uzbekistan, and marvel together at Mosques in Iran… Let’s look for what’s inside of you, what’s inside of me, before they can never be found again.
Q: What was the inspiration behind this documentary? And/or how did it come about?
This whole adventure-documentary started over a cup of tea on a temple overlooking the camel fair in Pushkar Rajasthan India. This is where I first met Jerome and that is where the idea was born.
This is the amazing thing about travel - random meetings with people who can become important to your life.
We got talking about why we were in Pushkar. I was there filming for my own personal interest and Jerome was doing a year ‘round the world’ trip. He had been in Ladakh and had gone on a tourist style trek with Bactrian camels. I didn’t believe there were Bactrian camels in Ladakh and after some photos and stories, together we thought it would be really cool for the people of Rajasthan to experience them as well. Especially the camel people.
We went our separate ways. I went on a two week camel trip from Pushkar to Jailsamer and when I arrived, there was an email from Jerome saying “The Camel Odyssey” was on and would I like to come and film it. How could I say no? For me it had everything, camels, filming and adventure all rolled into one.
Jerome spent the following year organizing it. He began by contacting The National Research Centre for Camels in India to see if it was possible to bring camels to Rajasthan from Ladakh and they gave him the all clear. The Pushkar fair coincided with the cooler months and so the climate in Rajasthan would be similar to their home in Ladakh.
With that I mind and knowing that the camels could survive and adapt to the environment we were bringing them to. Jerome set about organising each leg of the trip. Ladakh and Rajasthan.
Jerome then put the team together. None of us had met each other before, but we had all met Jerome in our travels. I found this to be another exciting element in the overall adventure, but it made filming harder - it took a lot of work to get the guys to open up to the camera at first but as they did it helped us to become close and become a pretty tight team. We barely had any personal problems with each at all.
When I got the final email saying that the trip was a definite, I was pretty shocked. I said yes at the beginning because I never knock back an opportunity but deep down I thought it might not eventuate - It was a pretty wild idea and would take a lot of organizing, plus some luck to pull it off.
I had only just finished filming a doco on a camel training camp out in the SA desert, so the two weeks before I left were pretty hectic. I came home, put my affairs in order and planned to be away for a year or so. I sold most of my possessions, car etc to raise money plus got a personal loan to get everything I thought I needed for the trip. I waved good bye to my mum at the airport and was off.
Q: What do you like/find challenging about making documentaries? Did you encounter any particular challenges in making this documentary and, if so, how did you overcome them? Any lucky breaks, and if so, how did they come about and how did you embrace t
What I like about documentaries is the people and the personal story - the revealing of truth and the intimacy of that reveal. What is challenging about making a doco is getting people to reveal this truth. But I find it is worth it.
I like to capture the real drama that exists in every day moments. The facial expressions, the body language, the space between people, the way someone talks to you, relationships, emotions. Drama is all around us, and a good doco captures that and then puts it into the context of the story that the film-maker wants to tell.
People and animal stories are an infinite canvas to work with, but I feel that film makers have become a bit lazy in the way they paint the canvas - mainly because the broadcaster only wants a narrative, Voice Over, event driven cannon fodder story. I am not a fan of this style. (even though I have done it for TV)
I will continue to strive to learn and find the way to tell the human story through drama, emotion and the characters experience.
Physically and emotionally this was a challenging doco to make. I had no crew support, I was a character in the film, plus I was the person who knew the most about camels. So the three months was very taxing on me. I had to always be ‘on’ and had no time to rest. My mind was always going. I had to be looking for the story, the drama, try not to interfere with what was going on in relation to the other guys having an experience, keeping them talking and confiding, being in front and behind the camera, manage the animals’ safety and our safety. It was pretty full on.
When the press started to attack us and harass us I was the person who confronted the media. So it is understandable why I was getting a bit pissed off with that journo at the vet.
The positive side is that I feel this has been a trial by fire on all levels and I have come through with a wealth of experience that I don’t feel could be learnt in film school.
I am a self-taught filmmaker. I have had no formal film schooling, so there were never any rules or formulae I could fall back on. I had to trust my instincts at all times and go for it. I am lucky I have a natural eye, a good ear and good nose for a story. I basically was living ‘film making’ as well as the adventure.
The next challenge was getting this film into some kind of narrative structure and I spent a few months in London working with an editor there until I came home.
I feel time out is pretty important for filmmakers who have worked like I have so I took one from my project and worked for another TV company editing. One day I felt my fire was back and I set about putting the movie together. This took awhile but was valuable as I knew my film and every shot inside out and it helped me prepare for the next stage - getting someone else interested in it.
The pitching process could fall into the category of ‘lucky breaks’ but with all luck you have to make it happen. You have to stay positive, look for opportunities, believe in yourself and go for it. Rejection goes hand in hand with success, it is up to you to decide which one is going to shape your project.
I entered a local filmmakers’ pitching competition and I won it. Screenworks Byron Bay, is a local film organization that supports local film makers. Without them holding an event like this, I can imagine the road to this project’s success would have been much longer.
The prize from the pitch was money to go to a festival of my choice to pitch my project. At this point I didn’t have a producer on board but I thought I would deal with that when I come to it.
Although I have been doing media related work for years before this project came along, I didn’t have any ‘acceptable industry experience’ therefore it is important to have the right people on board.
I then entered the AIDC ‘Documart pitching competition’ and ‘Meetmarket’: Both important events for filmmakers at AIDC.
The Australian International Documentary Conference is an amazing festival for filmmakers and industry professionals from all over the world to come together. This is the place where everyone you need to talk to from around the world is in one place.
I was rejected by Meetmarkt but was accepted for Documart. I will say that luck and benevolent vision got my project into the pile for the Documart selection.
I won the best pitch at Documart. Although it was nerve wracking it was worth it. This was an important moment as it led to meetings with the ABC and SBS. It also secured this project a very experienced Executive Producer, Susan MacKinnon, and some important meetings with the AFC, (now known as Screen Australia.)
Screen Australia has backed this project whole-heartedly and I am grateful to the people involved for that.
Screen Australia played a big part in the completion of this project, but so did some important people at SBS. Combined, their ability to see emerging talent and then to support, invest in, work with and encourage it, is pretty commendable I feel it has taken some courage and vision.
I was always going to finish this film, no matter who or how it was supported, but I am extremely grateful to those that have helped made it a reality.
Q: How does the documentary relate to your past work, if at all? Was this film a natural next step or a radical departure from your previous work in film, TV etc?
This is my first serious film. I feel I was always going along in this direction but this was a super leap and definitely a few levels above anything I had ever done before.
I was making films that had a camel theme. I know it is weird but I really like camels. I think if you are an artist you should work on what inspires you. Camels represent a lot of things to me. I could film them all day.
I was working on my camel documentary called ‘Camel Whispering’ before Collective Moments of Madness: A Camel Odyssey. I started to realise that only a certain type of people like camels but everyone is interested in people. And if you want to tell a story with strong themes then it should be in a format that everyone can enjoy. So I started to focus on the people who are into camels, as well as the camels.
Collective Moments of Madness: A Camel Odyssey is a natural progression. I have mixed everything I have learnt over the years, to make this human-animal doco.
What I hadn’t counted on was the injection of drama and jeopardy and how important they are in the telling of a story.
Thus I am learning every day from this project.
This story has everything. Betrayal, death, life, laughter, friendship, loveable animals, loveable characters, the unknown, prejudice, racism, corruption, cultural clashes, tears, heartache, adventure, joy. It is a roller coaster of emotion.
When I said to Jerome, “I am filmmaker, I know a few things about camels”, I guess I was a prime candidate to film this adventure.
Q: Apart from "it's a masterpiece" what would your ideal viewer response to the doco be?
That they were encouraged to try something new in their life and be inspired to travel and experience the wonders of the world. I know we had a pretty rough time but there were some magical moments that should not be overshadowed by the phenomenal bad times.
That they felt the emotions of the characters; went with them on the journey, from joy and elation amazement and wonder and then slowly plunging in to the madness, the anger, the betrayal, the sadness, guilt, grief etc.
Got them talking about the wide range topic this story inspires: ego, youth, fate, reality verse ideology, discrimination, western values, treatment of animals, adventure, travel, culture clashes, bureaucracy, the role of the media, emotions etc….
As a filmmaker I really would hope the viewer came on the journey, felt like they were the sixth person, the person behind the character that we are all talking to.
Q: Did you learn anything through making this documentary, about either yourself or your subjects?
Hopefully you will learn about the subjects as you watch the film. You will get to see a glimmer of the spark that makes them all special and unique people. I am so glad I met all these guys. I couldn’t have thought of four better people to be with and going through, this kind of adventure.
I have learnt too many things about myself, on this documentary, to list in this questionnaire. But here are a few things: I have strength and stamina to see something through to the very end, no matter what life throws at me. I have learnt to see things for what they are and not what I want them to be. I have learnt that I can learn from any situation positive and negative. I have learnt that I am reliable, trustworthy and dependable. But most of all I have learnt that humanity isn’t perfect and that is why it is so interesting to film.